Ten easy crafts to do with your kids this holiday season

Hi friends! Today I’m going to share ten different projects and ideas I’ve collected from around the internet that you can do with little ones to get excited for the holidays. You can find pins about all of these ideas on newlyweds Pinterest here:

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1. Plaster hand print ornaments and salt dough ornaments

 

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image via roxycraft.com

   Using plaster of paris sets or making your own salt dough is a great way to preserve little hands, feet, and fingerprints for years to come. Your basic salt dough recipe is one part flour, one part salt, and half part water. Another great example of salt dough ornaments is this evergreen ornament I found at roxycraft.com. Simply poke a hole in the top and bake them at a low temperature or let them dry out overnight before stringing them up and hanging them on the tree.

2. Hand print wreaths

 

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Lots of kids make these in school but it’s fun to put a twist on them and make them at home, too. You can use thumbprints to add holiday berries and try out different colors and glitters to match the rest of your decor at home. Plus what kid doesn’t like squishing their hands around in paint? I love this example but can’t find  what site it’s from other than the pinterest pin. If you know where it’s from let me know so I can give it credit.

3. DIY personalized ornaments

 

image via thenerdswife.com

image via thenerdswife.com

There are so many different ways to make ornaments. I love these personalized ornaments that I found on thenerdswife.com. (plus what an awesome site name, right?!) You can also use clear ornaments to insert holiday family photos, small vacation keepsakes, confetti, anything you might want that’s small enough to fit. Another great idea for small children is to use a wooden abc block with the first letter of their name. Let them decorate it up and paste a photo of them on front. you can drill a hole through the corner and tie it to a ribbon to easily hang it up on the tree.

4. Decorate sugar cookies

The possibility of decorating cookies are about as endless as the possibilities of what to stick in your ornament. Let your kids help you make up the dough, and after they’ve cooled set a few aside just for them to decorate. You can even use my sugar cookie recipe here for allergy free cookies! For some extra fun stock up on some edible pearls, metallic dragées (those shiny silver and gold balls), different types of sprinkles, licorice, jujubes, chocolate chips and kisses, the list goes on. Then just sit back and watch as your child creates a giant sugary monstrosity of a cookie, lol. To keep things a little less hectic you can tell them they’re decorating for Santa, and that they need to keep it neat and make nice cookies for him!

5. Reindeer ‘food’

 

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I think that this is absolutely adorable for small kids to do that still believe in Santa Clause. Make a mixture of oats, glitter, and birdseed and seal it up in a small baggy. On Christmas eve go outside together and scatter the reindeer food. When my brothers were little one year I went outside and left tracks in the snow to make it look like Santa and his reindeer came to see the treat we’d left outside. You can make reindeer prints easily by taking a piece of cardboard and cutting it into a hoof print shape, then hot gluing a dowel onto the back to easily press it into the snow. If you wear some big boots while you walk around it will look like Santa got out of his sleigh and walked around while the reindeer had their snacks. This is another image I couldn’t find a link back to, but clicking on it will take you to a printable pdf version in Google docs.

6. Elf on the shelf

 

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image via midgetmomma.com

 

I’ve heard so much about this little elf this year it’s crazy. Apparently it’s been around for a while now but it seems to have just made a comeback. You can get your own elf here at elfontheshelf.com. Each night your elf comes alive and flies to the north pole to report back to Santa about who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. He’s full of Christmas magic, but he can’t be touched or else his magic will fade away. When the kids wake up each morning the elf is in a different place and up to something mischievous! This page from midgetmomma.com has 60 different ideas for how your curious elf can entertain your kids throughout the holiday season.

7. Design your own stockings

 

image via atcompanyb etsy store

image via atcompanyb etsy store

 

If your Christmases are anything like mine were growing up, the first things to get tackled Christmas morning are the stockings. We all had the same stocking each year growing up and I love the idea of a home made, personal stocking. They don’t have to be sewn and made from scratch either. You can find plain stockings at craft stores and dollar stores and use no sew fabric glue to attach ribbons and trim. Use puffy paint and glitter paint for designs and add buttons and bows. You can do this each year or every few years and look back and see how your child’s creativity has grown over the years.

 

8. Design Christmas/Holiday cards

 

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

image via beautyandbeard.blogspot.ca

 

Christmas cards are another thing that is fun and are super easy to make. I love these from beautyandbeard that use paint chips and sequins to make cards. Some other good things to use on your cards are buttons, beads, craft paper, newspaper, ribbons, acrylic paint, stamps, pipe cleaners or stickers. You can find blank cards or card stock at just about any craft store for cheap. Add a holiday family photo to the front and have everyone add their signatures to the outside wishing others happy holidays. To keep short attention spans on track you can make each card different, or do just a few cards to send to close family members.

 

9. Snow globes from mason jars

 

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image via craftaholicsanonymous.net

 

This project generally involves using hot glue so it isn’t necessarily ideal for small children, but it’s a great way to let their creativity shine. You can make any scene that you’d like inside these and they are really fun to shake up and watch all the glitter/snow fall to the bottom. Plan out ahead of time what scene you’d like to create or go shopping together at the craft store to pick out items together.

10. Discuss what Christmas/ the Holiday season is REALLY about

To me, this is the absolute number one thing we should be doing with our children each year. Regardless of our religion, race, gender, income or where we live in the world, it is of the highest importance to teach our children compassion and respect. Even more so nowadays when holidays are looked at as a stressful time when people rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars in debt and seem to become more obsessed with material possessions than any other time of the year. Life goes by fast, stress builds up and sometimes we tend to overlook the little things that really make life meaningful.

The memories that stick with me from my Christmases growing up aren’t of each and every gift I got, it’s of my grandmother making us all sit in a big circle and telling us the story of Christmas. Teaching us to love, respect, and forgive each other because that’s what was done for us. I remember the giant family dinners we used to have at my great grandmothers house and playing with cousins and second cousins after scarfing down huge amounts of chicken and dumplings and mashed potatoes. When you take away all the material things, the only things we have left are each other. This year don’t just make these gifts and projects with your children, make memories with them. Teach them that the love and cheer we all want to spread during the holidays is something we should strive for year round.

Til next post,

Amber

Round Loom Knitting!

Hey all,

It’s been a couple weeks since I posted last. I was sick last week, then one of my bunnies was sick, then this past weekend was hubs and I’s first anniversary plus Thanksgiving here in Canada. But I found a new past time that I’ve been working on nonstop since yesterday afternoon. Knitting on a loom! I made my knitting needles and I kept thinking back to how my grandma taught me how to use a hoop loom to knit scarves on. I found them at Micheal’s and the set I like best was $25. Sad day because that’s a lot for some plastic looms.

But I caught a break because I found a coupon for 50% off any item in the store! Plus when I went I found yarn that is normally $7.99 on sale for $2.99. I almost felt bad making out with everything for so cheap. Here’s the set I got. It’s the Loops and Threads Knit Quick long loom set.

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The kit comes with four different size looms; a 10 in, 14 in, 18 in, and 22 inches. It also comes with a hook and a darning needle. I really like this set too because you can use it just like a round loom, since the pegs are continuous instead of only two parallel lines.

I wanted to make a lap blanket for the couch and picked up some super soft and gorgeous Lion Brand Yarn in Starlight. It’s a white bulky yarn with a gold thread running through it. Here Tucker is modeling with it so handsomely, lol.

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Here’s a close up of the metallic thread that runs through it:

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I’m absolutely in love with using the loom because I’m still a beginner at actually knitting anything and I still have a bit of a hard time. Right now I’m just basic knitting with the loom, but as I learn I’ll try and put up a tutorial. Here’s Tucker showing off what I’m working on now:

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I’ve got about 7 or 8 inches knit and it’s only taken maybe a third of the first skein. I picked up two so I should have plenty to do a small blanket. I cast on the same way I learned to do a round loom, but when I got to the end instead of going full circle I stopped, and just started winding around the other way. This gives me a flat piece that is double the length of the loom itself. The only problems I’m really having right now is the ends are curling a bit, but I may try to teach myself to crochet some scalloping around the edges to keep it flat.

If you guys would like to try this you can pick all of this up at Micheal’s. I’m not positive how long their yarn will be on sale but you can check it out HERE if you’re in Canada and HERE if you’re living in the United States. For the current coupons you can click HERE in Canada or HERE in the US. Right now there’s coupon’s for 50% off any one item, 40% off any one item, plus savings on scrap booking, Halloween decor, paints and supplies, beading, and framing services. They’re good until October 17, then there will be new ones. I’d really suggest keeping an eye on the different coupons and taking advantage of them because they can save some big bucks.

Til next post guys!

Amber

How I covered up my old phone jack

Hello again! This post will be fairly short and sweet but it has an important job to do. You see, there’s this awful thing in my kitchen and I just couldn’t figure out how to cover it up. It’s old, it’s no use to us, it’s gross and wiping it off with a rag does nothing to clean it. It’s set in the middle of the wall so it’s too low for a picture to cover it up without looking odd, and its sticking out of the wall by probably a half of an inch. What is this awful thing you ask?

dun Dun DUUUNNN

 

 

 

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It’s this old, gross phone jack just chilling out on my kitchen wall. Look at that! The screws won’t even go all the way in!

I wandered around the internet looking for ways to cover up an old phone jack. Since we rent I can’t exactly just take it out, so I had to find a clever way to disguise it. I found a post about making a cork board from an old picture frame and knew that’s what I was going to do. Except not the picture frame part. I wanted to make a custom cork board to cover up this bad boy.

I headed on over to (you know what’s coming) my trusty old Dollarama and lo and behold, I found some cork board.

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This package came with two tiles that were probably about a quarter of an inch thick, but that was perfect for me. I took one of the tiles and cut it into strips and then glued the strips around the back of the other piece of cork. This made sort of a frame around the back that let the board sit on the wall without butting into the jack.

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Well, that was easy… Just kidding, that’s not all I did. This is a quick project but not that quick.

I still wanted to decorate the front. I glued on a pad of paper for making grocery lists. A word of advice: gluing on cork can be tricky because it’s so porous. I used some Gorilla glue because (in my opinion) it’s some of the best glue you can find. It will stick anything to anything and I’ve used it for tons of projects in the past.

I decided that instead of thumb tacks poking holes all over it I’d use some twine and make a little clothes line across the top. It’d be super cute to use mini clothes pins but I decided to use paper clips instead. One because it’s what I had on hand, and two I’m too lazy to go back out searching for mini clothes pins. I also put a pen on the side as well for easy access.

I took the twine and wrapped it around the edges, then used my staple gun to staple them in place. I originally had used mounting tape to stick it to the wall but that didn’t hold up, so I stapled a piece of twine around the back and hung it up on a picture hanger. You could make yours even cuter by adding some decorative paper or fabric to it, or some cute accents, but we have a ridiculous amount of stuff I know will get put on this and just cover it up, so the plain old cork worked well for me.

Wanna see what I ended up with? Ok! Here it is:

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It looks a little plain here, but after I took this picture I put all the rest of our stuff up there and its all full. I may add some decoration to it later, but I’m ok with it for now. I’d say this looks and functions much better than that gross old phone jack and now I have even more room to post up random notes and recipes!

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My kitchen wall is that much cuter! Until next time guys!

Amber

DIY monogram wreath and other fall goodies!

It’s that time of year again! It’s starting to get colder and I’m putting up my summer decorations and moving on to fall. Except since this is really my first year of doing seasonal decorations I don’t have any fall things to put up. And you know I’m not going to be spending big bucks on pre-made wreaths and centerpieces. I’m going to share what I did to spruce up the apartment for fall all for about $15.00.

My first project: monogram wreath

I’ve been seeing all these adorable door wreaths on pinterest and really wanted to have one for the apartment. Looking at stores around here like Micheal’s and Canadian Tire fall wreaths were $20-$40 dollars. I even found some online as high as $100! A hundred dollars! For a wreath you only have on your door three months out of the year! I could spruce up our entire apartment on a hundred bucks. So after seeing those prices the cheapo in me came out full force and I decided I was going to make an adorable wreath to put those expensive ones to shame, and it was going to be customized to boot. And it was! I’m extremely happy with how it turned out.

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DIY it:

Here’s the big bundle of all the things that I got to do my decorating. There’s a few strings of leaves, I got two of them 5 ft for $1.25 and the other was sparkly and was $3. Then I have some ribbon, $1, the wreath, $2, the bowl, $1.25, flowers, $2, and a sprig with leaves and some berries and an acorn for $1.25. I was calling it my “fall haul”, lol.

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Phase one: The letter

First I started with the monogram. I cut out a stencil of how big I wanted my letter to be on computer paper. In this picture I hadn’t cut out the middle yet. I also originally made it a little smaller than I wanted to so I just used some tape to make it a little wider. I retraced it to get it as one single piece and cut a scrap of paper to the thickness I wanted my letter to be, making tick marks all around the inside. That way I knew that my letter would be even all the way around.

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I cut out the center of the letter with my trusty razor blade (I finally picked up some replacement blades for my box knife after this project, lol) and traced it onto cardboard. I actually used an empty rice box because it was really sturdy, but corrugated cardboard would work well for this too and you wouldn’t have to layer it as much. I wanted it to be a lot thicker than just one sheet of cardboard so I ended up cutting out four letters to stack together. In between each letter I used mounting tape, which gave it even more thickness. If you wanted you could even just buy a wooden letter and skip all of the previous steps.

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Then it was time to cover it! You can use any kind of yarn, ribbon, twine, etc. If you used just one thick piece of board you could even just paint it and leave it be. I used some twine because I felt like it went with the fall theme I wanted. I taped the beginning of the twine to the side of my letter and started winding it around. Letters that have holes in them are a little tricky because you can’t really fit the whole spool in there, so you have to work in sections. I made sure each new piece of thread I tied on was on the back of the letter. It was also really tricky transitioning from the curved part to the straight edge. I ended up just laying twine over the letter to fill in the spaces. I was stubborn and didn’t glue it, but I would definitely suggest you glue pieces down every so often as you go.

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And then the letter was all done! I love when you finish one stage of a project and it just makes you that much more excited to see the finished product.

Phase two: The Wreath

There are several different things you can use to make your wreath out off. Hangers, pool noodles, picture frames. I originally picked up a woven basket at the Dollar Tree and thought that would be a cool wreath, but when I was at my trusty Dollarama I found pre-made wreathes that were cute, but not what I’d want hanging on my wall. They only had a couple of decorations hot glued onto them though and it was about the size I was looking for. I decided that the basket could stay and basket and I could just deconstruct this wreath and make it into what I wanted. Here’s the before and after:

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I took one strand of leaves and wound it around the wreath but I really didn’t like how the leaves were just sticking out all over. I pulled off all the leaves that were on the back and started just hot gluing the leaves down where I wanted them. One of the strands had a couple of pieces of wheat and a cute little pumpkin, so I hot glued those on as well. I also wrapped some ribbon around it to tie everything together. To finish it off I glued on a couple of the flowers I picked up.

ImageAfter I got everything glued on where I wanted it I took the ribbon and looped it through my letter and tied it onto the wreath. Then I took a longer piece of ribbon and made a loop with a bow at the top to hang it on the wall. And that was that! I hung it up over the fireplace and I absolutely love it. I had quite a bit of leaves and things left over so I did a couple more decorations.

Other decorations:

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I used the bowl/basket that I had originally got for the wreath and made a centerpiece out of it for the coffee table. I put some stones in the bottom to weigh it down so it wouldn’t move/get knocked over by the cats. I just added the candle to the middle and arranged left over leaves and the pinecone and berry decoration around it.

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The final project I did was to update my vase on the fireplace. I got this vase soon after I moved to Canada and I absolutely love it. It is on our fireplace no matter what season it is and the one time the cats knocked it off I almost had a heart attack. I leave the ‘swirly twigs’ (I have no idea what they’re called, lol.) in there and just add different flowers and decorations to it. I wound the last string of leaves around it and added some extra leaves to the bottom. In the top I put all the extra flowers that I had.

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Here’s my fireplace mantle all put together and looking pretty! I love how everything goes together. The incense and holder I found at a dollar store somewhere while me and hubs were out exploring, and the bottle I got at Micheal’s as part of a $3 grab bag. All the rest of the things there are gifts that I love.  I tried I don’t know how many times to get a clear shot of this but every one seemed a little grainy and I don’t know why, so sorry about that!

That’s all for now! Next post I’m torn between either making a photo frame collage for the wall or finding a creative way for covering up an old and unused phone jack in the kitchen. We’ll see next week!!

Love,

Amber

Re cover old countertops with Con-Tact Papers!

Hello! So for my very first post I’m going to show you a big project that I just finished.

Do you hate your counter tops? Do you rent and aren’t able to make changes? Or maybe you own your home but realize that new counter tops cost like, a gazillion (okay not really, but good counter tops sure seem to cost that much) dollars? Then boy have I got something for you! Recover those bad boys! I had talked about doing this in the apartment with my mom but I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out. I was worried it’d end up being expensive, really hard, or that there would be really obvious seams and when anyone would see it they would say “Why is your counter covered in sticky paper?” But after doing a little research and finding out how cheap this really is to do I figured I’d give it a shot.

I found granite contact paper on a 18in x 24ft roll for only $9.97 at Home Depot. I also found that Dollarama has rolls too but I think they’re only 4 ft or something like that and I tried one of them first on my bathroom sink and it just wasn’t working. It’s pretty flimsy and if by chance it sticks to itself, scrap the whole section cause it’s stuck for good. I used it on the top of the vanity in the bathroom to cover up the old stainless steel, but after working with Con-Tact I really prefer the brand name stuff. I also picked up a 18in x 9ft roll of faux wood grain paper for $4.97.  All together this project cost me about 30$ after taxes, and that’s only because Home Depot was sneaky and had the small rolls labeled as the larger ones so I ended up having to go back for more. I still have quite a bit left over even after doing my bathroom counter so one 24 ft roll should do you unless you have a lot of counter space.

What I did:

First off make sure your counters are clean and dry, I used some Vim and hot water and washed it down, then went over it again with regular warm water to make sure any residue was off.

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I also washed down a little piece of trim that’s right under the counter facing the living room, because I wanted to put the wood grain print there.

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Then I got to work measuring and cutting. You want to make sure to leave about an inch extra all around, then trim it with a box knife or razor blade to get it as close as possible. I wanted to have the grain going horizontal, so I just cut it out in long strips. The paper has a grid on the back that makes it a little easier to keep things square, though its plastered in directions that cover up a lot of the grid.

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Peel off the corner of the backing and then line it up with the edge. Those buddies can be pretty hard to separate so you might have to use your nails. You’ll also want a credit card or a small squeegee to help make sure no air bubbles get trapped under the paper. I used our laundry card, lol. You1 can also see my cat Tucker being a creeper. He was in the middle of licking his paw when I snapped this, he’s not that menacing all the time, I promise.

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After you get the first piece up, line the grain up with the second piece and make sure to leave about a centimeter of overlap. The directions say that it’s possible that the paper can shrink a little bit, so with this much overlap you won’t end up with any gaps. After you get the pieces up, take your blade and trim off the excess paper.

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It took three pieces to cover the length of the trim, and you can see the seams somewhat, but I really don’t mind at all. Getting this done just made me that much more excited for the counters!

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For the counter:

A couple “Before” shots. Yes that’s an upside down hanger wrapped around the cabinet handles. It’s the only way to keep Tucker out otherwise he gets in our trash. (I said he wasn’t menacing, but he is a little turd.) Our counter also has a built in cutting board that I neither trust nor use. I just drown it in bleach every so often because I’m convinced that germs are hiding all over it.

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I decided to start by the fridge and get the bare counter done before I moved on to trying to go around the sink and the cutting board. Halfway through rolling out the first section I was more excited than ever. Goodbye boring counter tops!

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There was a wall section that stuck out into the counter top because it has to be like the rest of the apartment and make me frustrated. I rolled up to the edge and then cut the notch out as I was smoothing out the paper. Look at that paint job! Things like that is why I’m working so hard to improve on this little apartment, lol.

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So after I forgot that the notch goes back in I learned why I picked the granite pattern. It is very forgiving. I just took some smaller scraps and patched in what wasn’t covered up and you couldn’t even tell. If you choose to go with marble or some other pattern that needs to be lined up, be careful because it isn’t nearly as forgiving.

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First section is done! From there it went really well, I got that entire section of counter done, then I realized that Home Depot pulled one over on me and sold me a short roll, so I had to go back for more. I used up as much as I could of the scraps that I had though, and did the corners of the sink when I looked over and saw Tucker being creepy yet again. I guess he thought I needed supervising, haha.

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So I did around the corners of the sink, that way I could just come in with some rectangular pieces to finish it off. I headed back to Home Depot feeling pretty proud of myself. (By the way I found several more mislabeled rolls that were in the more expensive spot, and when I told the cashier he said I was the only person who had bought contact paper in probably two months. Lets start covering counters and change that!)

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When I got back with my giganta roll of paper I filled in around the sink a bit more and started doing the little back splash area. By that time I had a nice collection of scraps hanging from my cabinets and had resolved that my next project was doing something with that hideous plug in/switch.

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Also just a word of advice, please try and get a box knife. I used a razor blade with one half wrapped in tape, because that’s what I learned to do when I was a poor college student majoring in fine arts. But seriously, safety first folks.

I had the sink completely surrounded and the back splash done, then I just filled in all the remaining space and went around the cutting board the same way I did the sink. I took some of the wood grain paper and filled in the middle of the cutting board. I never use it, but at least it’ll look pretty now.

The finished product:

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Overall I was extremely happy with how it turned out and I would definitely recommend that anyone on a budget or in a rental space try this out if they want to spruce up their old counter tops. Next, I’ll take my extra and do the bathroom… after I take a rest. In all this took me about three hours to do, but probably would have taken a little over two if I didn’t have to go pick up more Con-Tact Paper.

There it is! My first post all grown up and being read by the world! Hopefully you enjoyed this post and I’ll keep posting about the new projects I get myself into. For now just one more picture, because Tali didn’t want to be left out.

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See you guys next post,

Amber

* HEY YOU!

Just a disclaimer as short as someone who needs a stool to reach her top cabinets (me, what??) Con-Tact paper is not SUPPOSED to stick permanently. This is why it’s popular doing it with rentals/ as a nice change of scenery. But make sure your landlord won’t flip out on you before you do it. We’ve got a cool land lady and from when I did the vanity in my bathroom I didn’t have any problems with residue or stickiness, but use at YOUR OWN discretion aka common sense says sticky stuff might leave sticky stuff behind, and don’t blame me if it does, just read this. It’s “Helpful Hints” found on the back of the Con-Tact sheet.

1) Bubbles: Simply puncture bubble with pin and flatten. Smooth with a plastic straight edge.

2) Cleaning: Wipe with damp cloth or sponge and mild soap.

3) To Remove: Begin at one corner and peel off. Peel at 180 degree angle to minimize effect on surface. Gentle heat from a hairdryer can help.

4) To Remove Residual Adhesive: Use rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol/household cleaners for tougher residue.